You hear a lot about the condition of the roads in Central America. In our experience if you stick to the main highways and avoid traveling at night you make out just fine. This learned experience was reinforced one weekend when we were going to the beach.
We were headed to a beach we'd not been before but 75% of the route was (supposed to be) familiar because of a previous trip. The morning we were leaving I used my phone to download the route via GoogleMaps. We don't have data plans on our phones so it's essential to get the routes before leaving the house.
About 30 minutes into the trip Google told me to turn down a country road that I had previously not traveled. At that moment I had two choices, follow Google (which was the only true directions we had) or go the route that I was pretty sure I remembered well enough to get us there. I made a judgement call, the wrong judgement call, and decided to follow Google.
What followed was a ride down twisty, bumpy, winding, less maintained roads. Technically we were still headed in the right direction but we were taking the long way, the v e r y l o n g w a y. At one point we were literally driving through a coffee plantation on a dirt road used by the workers of the farm. I'm still baffled that Google even knew this road existed. The highlight of the misguided trip came when we saw this...
The road...was gone. It was gone! It had fallen into the river (likely attributed to the rainy season that ended the previous month). Luckily just to the right of this picture was a dirt road that someone had carved out of the countryside so that you could get around this section. Unfortunately 200 yards up the road was this...
Pictured above is the end of the what used to be a bridge over the river. We took a break and surveyed our situation. Turning around was not a viable option at this point. We were already so far towards the beach on this wild goose chase of directions that turning around would be disheartening. While trying to figure out what to do next a pickup truck drove through the river and onto a dirt road next to the washed out bridge. We figured if they could do it...
Thankfully the river was down and we were driving an SUV. It was an adventure.
We arrived at the beach 5 hours after we left Panajachel. It should have only taken us 2.5 hours (and did on the way home).
Lesson learned, I needed a better solution for GPS and found it the following week. More on that in a future post.
ADDITIONAL NOTE from Mickelle: Ken neglects to mention that his 2.5 hour detour was painful to several of us in the car. Tag and I were riding in the trunk (Yes, the trunk) and were cramped between food and luggage. (Remember, before this journey, we removed the third row of our car to make more room for belongings. Therefore Tag and I were sitting on luggage in a hole in the trunk, not a flat surface.) Our friend's 8-year-old was in the second row carsick from the winding road. Unfortunately for her, she never got sick. Our experience is that getting sick is usually the solution to feeling better. At one point we encountered road construction and waited 15 minutes for the road to open. Thankfully the journey ended at a beautiful, secluded beach on the Pacific Ocean. It didn't take long to forgive Ken for trusting a computer app instead of his prior human experience.